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Otherwise Intelligent People

Here we go again in Gaza. We’ve seen this movie before; hamas does something ineffectual to provoke Israel and Israel responds by slaughtering hundreds of innocent Palestinians. Now right off the bat, I know that smoke is coming out of some of your ears.

First a little background about me. I’m Jewish. Iranian born, raised in California from the age of about 3 1/2 (so the US is really all I know). I come from, what we assume is 1000 generations of Jews. We have to assume because there were name changes on both sides of my family. We think we know the original last name on my mother’s side, but we haven’t made any headway on my father’s side. We know that his family name must have been changed in either his father’s or his grandfather’s generation. His father is more likely, since there is literally no one on this planet with my last name, who isn’t directly related to me. By directly, I mean second cousin. We found that second cousin in Jerusalem when we saw a store called, "[my last name] Souvenirs". I bring up the name changes because it’s kind of a big deal thing that occurred, and it’s mostly unique to Jews. When Hitler was letting his freak flag fly, there were (I’m guessing) millions of name changes in order to sound less Jewy and avoid that whole being tortured and murdered thing. Not knowing who you are is kind of a big deal. I’m not one with an attachment to family or family history. My son is. I gave him up for adoption when he was born (don’t worry Zionisits, I gave him to a nice Jewish family to raise). We reconnected almost five years ago. The being adopted thing has given him an obsession with learning who he is. His obsession made me realize that I am a little bummed that I can’t go to ancestry.com to find out how it all started. I’m pretty sure that my son’s determination will eventually produce a family tree but still, it’s a weird thing that only Jews deal with. I grew up nonreligious, but fairly Jewy nonetheless. I learned about Hitler and Masada, I read both of Leon Uris’ books (my father knew him) and was well versed in the suffering of our people.

When my son moved to Israel, I was excited to visit him. Because I wanted to spend time with him, but also because I wanted to see Israel. He moved there because his parents had taken him when he was a child, and he loved it. He promptly got his Israeli citizenship and prepared for his mandatory military service. He left the US, a complete Israeli AIPAC style hawk. He didn’t come back that way. He was still very pro Israel the first time I visited. He was in Jerusalem so I stayed in Jerusalem. We actually drove all across the country because I wanted to see as much as I could.

The first and most obvious thing I saw was that the Arab neighborhoods were ghettos. Having grown up in America, and seeing ghettos full of brown people, my assumption is that they were created for the Arabs just like our ghettos here were created for everyone darker than dark beige. I don’t believe there’s something inherently inferior about poor people, nor do I believe they’re lazy. I understand the institutional circumstances that were set up to make getting out of those ghettos almost impossible. Here in the US, those ghettos were created by well meaning liberals who horribly miscalculated when they created whole communities for low income housing. You can’t segregate people like that. They have to be intermingled with everyone else. When you segregate them into their own neighborhoods, you create institutional hurdles like inferior schools, mold ridden homes that create a lifetime of debilitating asthma, food deserts, and a whole host of other things we don’t really think about. Everything about our ghettos is true of all ghettos.

So right off the bat, Israel and I aren’t off to an awesome start. I saw massive self segregation that I really didn’t think much of at first. After all, we see this all around the world; people hanging out with their own kind. That’s why every big city has a China Town, Korea Town, and Little Italy. What my brain recorded, but didn’t process until later was how granular that segregation is. Russian Jews separate themselves from Russian gentiles, Ashkenazis hang out with other Ashkenazis, Sephardics hang out with other Sephardics, and Arabs have their own neighborhoods. I didn’t fully process the strict social hierarchy I was looking at. One morning before my son came to meet me at my hotel (still in Jerusalem), I decided to walk around and do a little exploring. I saw a black woman walking toward me. I saw people spitting and yelling at her. She wasn’t doing anything but walking. It was appalling. I didn’t bring it up to my son because I didn’t want to get into a long discussion wherein he tells me how awesome Israel is, and I tell him what I saw with my own lying eyes. I saw xenophobia everywhere. There’s a bizarre and palpable "fear of the other" thing going on there.

My son wanted to show me Tiberias, where he wanted to move. We Google mapped the directions and got back a strange result. Google didn’t lead us directly there. It instead wanted us to do a giant letter "c" excursion. I asked my son why this was, and he looked at the map. He realized that it was because Google didn’t want us to go through the West Bank. Naturally, I wanted to go through the West Bank because I’m inherently curious. We drove past the illegal settlements. They looked like luxury prisons to me. All of the windows were tiny, probably because of the high likelihood that there would be bombing there. I really thought that it took a special kind of asshole to live there. At one point, we pulled over on the side of the road to have a cigarette (yes, I was still a filthy smoker back then). It was June, noon, and really hot. Some farmers next to us were waving us in to sit with them in their shade. They poured us some of their coffee and offered us some of their cigarettes. My son spoke just enough Arabic to communicate with them. They were Bedouins whose family were, for generations from the spot we were standing on. Their family farm now belonged to an Israeli who was paying them a pittance to work the farm. The thing that struck me was how generous these people were, sharing what little they had with us. I understand that this story is anecdotal and I don’t tell it to you to make a statement. I tell it so that you can understand what I saw.

When we were coming back into Israel, we made the mistake of stopping at a security checkpoint, instead of slowly rolling past it (the way my son told me everyone did). They asked for ID. My son pulled out his Israeli ID and I pulled out my passport, knowing it was going to cause me problems because it caused me problems every time I pulled it out. It’s a problem because my United States passport says that I was born in Iran. Not surprisingly, we had to pull over for a security check. We were there for 45 minutes while they combed through every inch of the car. The inside, the trunk, under the hood, and the undercarriage. At one point, my son says, "she’s Jewish". The kid "guarding" us said, "I know. It’s a Jewish name". So at this point, one has to wonder if there have been a rash of attacks against Israel by US citizens from predominantly Muslim countries (where Jews came from), or do we have a serious case of xenophobia going on here?

Anyway, that’s just some of what I saw when I was there. I know that I’m more observant than most people, but I honestly don’t see how anyone can not see the xenophobia.

Now to back to the slaughter of innocent Palestinians. So three Israeli teenagers are killed and the Israeli government concludes that hamas is responsible. There’s no evidence pointing at anyone specific but nonetheless, Israel knows it’s hamas. Hamas denies it (of course they did) and at some point, ISIS says it’s them. There are conspiracy theories floating around that it was Israel, who wanted to start this bombing campaign of Gaza so that they can take the next step toward annexation. Israel is actually responsible for that insane conspiracy theory. They released an emergency call that the teenagers made during the incident. To be more specific, they released an edited version of the tape, where the last 8 – 9 seconds were cut off. That would be the 8 – 9 seconds where you can hear the gunshots. The gunshots on the tape make it pretty likely that those kids had been murdered on the spot and yet, Israel went on a two week search for live people. It was curious. To be clear, I don’t believe that Israelis murdered these kids. I would be more inclined to believe that the whole thing was fabricated, but I don’t really believe that either. I don’t know what happened, and neither does Israel. So then a Palestinian kid is murdered by some Israelis cause, is there a more effective way to display your moral superiority than to behave in the same way the people you refer to as barbarians do? And then hamas does what hamas always does; they start firing their utterly ineffective rockets on Israel. They know that those rockets won’t make it to Israel because they didn’t last time they fired them. Iron dome works, and everyone knows it. But hamas does this because they know what Israel is going to do next; make it rain with bombs in Gaza. Neither hamas nor Israel has any regard for the innocent Palestinians who are being imprisoned in Gaza. Hamas want the civilian death toll will be high, in the hope of winning the PR war. Israel doesn’t give a shit what the civilian death toll is for a couple of reasons. They want to annex Gaza and they don’t care how many innocent Palestinians die. They believe that all Palestinians are responsible for the actions of a radical minority. This is the point at which some people point in one direction and lay all of the blame there. I’m sorry, but Israel and hamas are in an unholy partnership here and if you can’t see that, it’s because you’re being guided by your emotions.  

Gaza is a prison. It’s a prison, it’s a prison, it’s a prison, it’s a prison, it’s a prison, it’s a prison. Everyone who has been there and seen it with their own lying eyes said it’s a giant outdoor prison. Now you can refuse to click on any of those links because you don’t want to know what you don’t want to know, but that would make you no different than Louie Gohmert, Michelle Bachmann, or any of the other anti-science members of the republican party. You’re a climate denier, denying the climate in which the Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live.

Or, you can do what I did and objectively read everything you can on the matter. I left a lifetime’s worth of emotion and shared cultural perspective on the table in regard to Israel. I have no motivation to be "anti-Israel. None. I decided to educate myself and objectively assess the situation.               

Do you think that maybe trapping 1.4 million people on just 140 sq miles of land might perhaps produce some extremists? Most liberals and thinkers of other political persuasion understand that our intervention in Iran is "why they hate us". They hate us because we installed the Shah as their leader. We created the theocracy that Iran is today. Iran was on its way to being a fairly secular country until we empowered the mullahs. Some of us understand that Obama’s indiscriminate drone strikes in Pakistan are creating a future generation of terrorists every time they kill an innocent Pakistani. We understand that a straight line can be drawn between our actions in Afghanistan with the Mujahadeen thirty years ago, and 9/11. We understand that the way we left Iraq will surely bring more terrorism our way. And yet, when it comes to Israel, some people lose all objectivity. Israel is creating the radicalized members of hamas. To absolve Israel from all of the killing here is ludicrous. Israel is creating its own terrorism, just the way we helped to create ours. Are there batshit crazy terrorists that Israel had nothing to do with creating? Of course. Is Israel creating more of them? Of course. 

I correct the bullshit. I correct right wing bullshit, and democratic bullshit. I don’t plan on stopping at the Israeli border. You can disagree with me, but you can’t accuse me of irrationality here. I have reasons for my conclusions, and they’re based on all of the facts, not just the ones I like.

I want Israel to survive and prosper. I don’t see how that’s going to be possible if they stay on their current course of genocide. Yes, it’s a genocide when you’re slaughtering people that have no planes, no navy, and no military. If Israel cared about minimizing civilian casualties, their bombings wouldn’t have an 80% civilian death rate. They would have sent in ground troops to target the actual terrorists.

I’m not going to defend the indefensible or keep my mouth shut about it. That’s what the good people of Germany did once. I sincerely wish they had spoken up.


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